Asio surprise as Orthosia continue to dominate

A good diversity of species were recorded at Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire, on the final weekend of March as the dark winter nights and regular gull roosting activities came to an end with the onset of British Summer Time.

Once again, it was a mixture of winter and summer migrants, with numerous Chiffchaff Phylloscopus collybita singing and a good number of Sand Martin Riparia riparia to be seen. A few Fieldfare Turdus pilaris and Redwing T. iliacus moved through north, as did a small number of alba Wagtail. Presumably the same female Scaup Aythya marila as last weekend remained on D reservoir, and two Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus performed at the southern end of the site early evening on the 30th, while a Corn Bunting Miliaria calandra sang in the background. Easily 80+ species were possible to record over the weekend, with over 70 noted alone on the 29th, with very little effort made.

Perhaps this Vole species was one of many available to the Short-eared Owls, this individual below was posing for close-up pictures at the southern end – at times coming too close to allow the camera to focus.

Vole species Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2014

Despite the cool conditions, over 50 male Diurnea fagella were noted roosting on trees, along with a small number of Engrailed Ectropis bistortata.

Diurnea fagella Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2014

Meanwhile, the Orthosia flavour of the traps continued with a few Twin-spotted Quaker O. munda and the first Lead-coloured Drab O. populeti of the season being taken a light. Doug Fairweather, Neil Hart and myself also found good numbers of moths in the hides, including Tophill’s third Parsnip Moth Depressaria heraclei – the first winter/spring record of the species on site after two autumn individuals in the last couple of years.

Twin-spotted Quaker Orthosia munda Tophill Low NR, East Yorkshire March 2014

For the latest Tophill round click here.

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